[expand]The battleship (or, according to another classification, the battlecruiser) Scharnhorst was the lead ship of the Kriegsmarine battleship series, built at the Wilhelmshaven shipyard and commissioned on January 7th, 1939. Almost immediately after entering service and until the very last day of her combat career, Scharnhorst took an active part in the Kriegmarine combat operations. The battleship was baptized by fire during a sabotage operation near Iceland, where the British Navy’s auxiliary ship HMS Rawalpindi, adapted for military operations from an ocean liner, was sunk by her fire. Thereafter, Scharnhorst took part in the invasion of Norway. Here, together with her sister ship Gneisenau, the ships met the British battlecruiser HMS Renown, and after a quick firefight both German ships were forced to retreat due to the technical issues of Scharnhorst and damage to Gneisenau from HMS Renown’s fire. In early summer, German battleships met the British aircraft carrier HMS Glorious and sank it along with two escort destroyers. In this battle, Scharnhorst received the first significant combat wound from a torpedo from the destroyer, HMS Acasta (H09). After repairs that lasted until the end of 1940, Scharnhorst operated in the Atlantic, destroying Allied commercial ships and tankers.
After a raid of British heavy bombers near the French port of Brest, Scharnhorst was forced to dock for repairs that took the whole of 1941. In the winter of 1942, the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, supported by destroyers, torpedo boats and aircraft, made a daring dash along the English Channel into Germany. In March 1942, Scharnhorst was sent to reinforce the battleship Tirpitz for attacks on Arctic convoys. On December 26th, 1943, during an attempt to attack the convoy JW-55B, the battleship was discovered by the cruiser, HMS Belfast, followed by a battle between the convoy escort cruisers and the German battleship. Scouted and illuminated by the escort cruisers, Sharnhorst came under fire from the British battleship HMS Duke of York, the first volleys of which deprived the German of two main battery turrets and damaged the ship’s power plant. After a short chase, Scharnhorst was sunk by torpedo attacks from destroyers and short range salvos from HMS Duke of York. Of the 1968 crew members, only 36 survived.[/expand]
Scharnhorst will appear in our game with the release of the next major update as a rank V battlecruiser in the German bluewater fleet research tree. Due to political restrictions, this well-protected and fast ship received “only” 283 mm guns. Within the game, however, Scharnhorst is more than competitive in comparison with other battleships: record protection in the main armour belt area (350 mm armour belt plus 105 mm armoured deck slope), a record maximum speed of 31.65 knots among battleships and battlecruisers, excellent main battery turret defense and a good selection of shells offer gameplay more typical for light cruisers more than battleships.
The auxiliary calibre of the battlecruiser Scharnhorst is single and twin mounts with 150 mm guns, quite well protected as well. Numerous anti-aircraft artillery is represented by twin mounts with 105mm cannons, as well as in 37mm and 20mm autocannons. The weak point of this brilliant ship is the lack of anti-torpedo bulges. The area below the ship’s waterline is very vulnerable to torpedoes and artillery fire, hits there often lead to fires and damage to the propellers and rudders.
In other great news for all fleet commanders: in the upcoming update, War Thunder will have mechanics for launching shipbourne reconnaissance aircraft! We plan to have reconnaissance seaplanes on ships of all playable nations, and we will definitely add new aircraft in future major updates. The reconnaissance aircraft will allow you to better examine the enemy grouping, scout a ship hidden behind rocks, fight enemy aircraft, destroy an enemy boat with cannons and machine guns, or damage an enemy cruiser or destroyer with bombs. Just like regular seaplanes, reconnaissance hydroplanes will be able to capture points – a small plane can decide the outcome of a battle for large ships!
Let’s see how this mechanic works in the example of the battlecruiser Scharnhorst, which is armed with Arado Ar.196 hydroplanes. When you press the button for activating the reconnaissance aircraft, the catapult starts turning the seaplane to a ready for take off position in the direction set by the player. When the take-off indicator changes color from red to blue – take-off is allowed! Pressing the aircraft control button again will take you to the cockpit, and the ship will continue to move on a preset course at a preset speed. When the situation around the ship requires the participation of the player, press the aircraft control button again – the scout aircraft will be controlled in automatic mode, and you will again find yourself on the ship’s bridge. If the reconnaissance aircraft is lost, and the ship has spare aircraft and free catapults, after a certain period of “recharging” , the seaplane will be able to fly out for reconnaissance once again.
For a complete list of reconnaissance seaplanes, as well as the ships on which they will appear in the next update, see the changelog that we will publish on the day of update’s release. We believe that reconnaissance seaplanes will make the battles of big fleets even more interesting, and commanders of sea giants will have something to have fun with during their long maneuvers!